Potential anthrax spread prompts hippo cull in Zambia: Critics respond | Outbreak News Today Outbreak News Today
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The wildlife conservation group, the Born Free Foundation, has come out criticizing and condemning an apparent plan sanctioned by the Zambian government- to cull 2000 hippopotamuses over the next five years. The justification? A ‘wildlife management tool’ to prevent the future spread of anthrax among wild animals.



However, the motivations for the cull are in question as Born Free President and Co-Founder, Will Travers OBE, noted: “There are many questions about this abhorrent activity, questions that simply must be answered: Is it a cull or is it ‘trophy hunting’? What is the scientific rationale for killing up to 2,000 hippo (there are perhaps as few as 80,000 hippo in all of Southern Africa)? Is culling an effective way of addressing the possible spread of anthrax? Where will the money from the cull really end up? Is there truly an over-population issue with hippo in the Luangwa area?”

He continued: “At a time when wildlife populations of multiple species are under extreme pressure across much of Africa, many, including Born Free and our supporters around the world, fundamentally question the logic of killing thousands of hippo, and turning the flood plains of the Luangwa River Valley into ‘killing fields’. I am sure the hippo cull, along with Zambia’s decision to re-instate trophy hunting of lions, will cause many to question whether Zambia is the right wildlife safari destination for them. I urge the authorities to call a halt to the killing with immediate effect.”

Anthrax outbreaks among hippos is not totally rare thing in Africa. Uganda has reported a number of large outbreaks in recent years HERE, HERE. Their behavior as meat eaters in communal feeding contributes to the spread of the bacterial disease.

In addition, the eating of hippo meat in Zambia several years ago, due to a lack of food, led to a human anthrax outbreak that affected hundreds.

The Born Free Foundation reports that the hippopotamus is listed as Vulnerable on the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List with recent population estimates suggesting that, over the past 10 years, there has been a 7%-20% decline in hippo populations.





  1. DNPW are saying the ‘cull’ (which is in fact ‘trophy hunting’) is to ‘control anthrax’. This appears to be a convenient excuse to raise some revenue. But they can’t have it both ways can they?

    None of the hippos who have been killed and butchered are being tested for anthrax (as far as I know) and the meat taken from the hippo’s bodies are already being sold from the back of the vehicles in the local villages for a K-tenner or so, per kilo. Do the people buying the meat know that anthrax is a concern of DNPW or that the so called reason hippos are being killed is to ‘stop the spread of anthrax’. if anthrax is (really) a concern why would the DNPW allow the the sale of the meat out of the back of the meat processor’s trucks tolocal people? If this is an exercise in anthrax control, why doesn’t the DNPW burn the carcasses?

    PS: Keep a close eye on the skin of the Hippo butchers (pictured) and anyone else who has handled or carried the Hippo’s flesh because if there IS anthrax then lesions can appear on the skin.

    In 2011 in Chama in eastern Zambia – 500 people got sick and 5 died after eating anthrax contaminated hippos. Eating anthrax infected hippo meat can cause illness.

    *Humans and animals can ingest anthrax from carcasses of dead animals that have been contaminated…

  2. […] Potential anthrax spread prompts hippo cull in Zambia: Critics respond  […]

  3. […] Potential anthrax spread prompts hippo cull in Zambia: Critics respond […]

  4. […] a follow-up to a report last week concerning a planned cull of hippopotamus in the Luangwa River Valley of Zambia due to […]

  5. […] As you may recall in June, the Zambian government planned a mass cull of hippos over the next five years calling it a”wildlife management tool” to control anthrax. However, after strong opposition by the Born Free Foundation, the Zambian government suspended the cull. […]

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